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The Benefits of Rain Barrels and Why You Need One

We have all seen water speed out of our downspouts across the lawn and into the gutter during a rain storm. This water goes into a storm drain which pipes it into the nearest lake or stream, carrying with it any pollution or trash that it has picked up along the way. You can help reduce the amount of stormwater while receiving the benefits of captured rainwater by using a rain barrel.

What is a rain barrel?

A rain barrel is used to catch water flowing from a downspout. Rain barrels reduce the amount of excess stormwater by collecting roof run-off and storing the rainwater for future use.

The rainwater collected can be stored for later use to water your lawn and gardens during dry spell. The water can also be used for washing windows and cars. Rain water is actually better than tap water for watering house and garden plants since it contains no chlorine.

What are the benefits?

  • Water gathered in a rain barrel is not subject to community watering restrictions.

  • Rain barrels provide naturally soft water with no additives to irritate your plants.

  • You can save money on your water bill.

  • This conservation effort reduces water pollution in our rivers and lakes by reducing stormwater run-off.

Maintenance and Installation of Your Rain Barrel When deciding where to install your rain barrel, keep in mind where you would like to have water easily accessible for your gardens or lawn.

Also remember that in order to water your gardens most efficiently, your barrel must be higher than your garden itself. An elevated location is ideal. Use concrete blocks, patio blocks or something sturdy to elevate the barrel further; 16 inches to 2 feet is preferable. Since a full rain barrel is quite heavy, make certain your barrel is level and does not rock or move.

Maintenance of a rain barrel is very minimal. Before major rain events, drain your barrel into your yard or garden, which will allow for your rain barrel to retain more water and fill with new fresh water.

If you find mosquitoes in your rain barrel, you can use an old stocking or cheese cloth around the outside of the screen or if you prefer, you may purchase a pool sock. Another option is to put a couple drops of vegetable oil in the water of your barrel. If you do use vegetable oil, however, make sure to add more vegetable oil after each rain event that overflows your barrel. This will alleviate any mosquito problems.

During the spring and summer, inspect your rain barrel periodically and remove any debris that has accumulated on the screen lid that would block the entry of water. You should also routinely clean the inside of your rain barrel.

During the winter months, take your barrel out of operation. Empty and clean it and turn it upside down. Store it inside and remember to redirect the downspout away from your foundation.

Where can I get one?

Rain barrels are available from the Scott Soil and Water Conservation District in Jordan during our annual tree sale. Pre-order your rain barrel here. It will be available for pick-up at the end of April.

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